This week, a report prepared by ‘Visitor and Migrant NHS Cost Recovery programme’ was published in order to improve the systems for charging international visitors and migrants for their NHS healthcare in the UK. The proposed changes do not seek to undermine the principle that the NHS is, and will remain, free for UK citizens. Instead, they are being introduced because the UK Government believes that the NHS can no longer afford to be so open to migrants who are not settled in the UK and implement the belief that everyone should make a fair contribution to the cost of their healthcare.
UK Visitors & Non-EEA Nationals to Pay for NHS Treatment
Earlier this year, we reported that UK Government ministers announced that overseas visitors and migrants are to face new charges for some NHS services in England, including some emergency care, extended prescription fees and higher rates for optical and dental services. The government is of the view that the UK’s health system is ‘overly generous’ to those who have a temporary relationship with the UK and as such ministers are putting plans in place to extend NHS charging for overseas visitors and migrants.
Dr Mark Porter, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) spoke out against the government’s plans and believes that requiring GP’s to spend more time on paperwork and bureaucracy needed to regulate the new charges could mean the system will end up costing more to run than in revenue.
Dr Mark Porter stated:
“[The proposals] are likely to create a complex patchwork of charging and access entitlements where some services remain free, such as GP appointments, while others will be chargeable, including A&E visits and other services provided via many GP practices, such as physiotherapy.”
Immigration Health Surcharge Allows Access to NHS Services
The visitor and migrant NHS cost recovery programme – implementation plan 2014-16, states that the NHS regulations 2011 needs to be prepared, redrafted and implemented.
“The Overseas Visitor Charging Regulations, which currently make provision about the services and overseas visitors that are chargeable, will require amendment. The date for laying the regulations is linked to the Home Office timetable for the regulations setting out the detail of the surcharge. However, this phase expects to deliver the secondary legislation to align with a spring rollout of the surcharge.”
The ‘surcharge’, is a payment made on UK visa applications. For those who choose to pay the immigration health surcharge, it will give them access to NHS services in the same way as a person ordinarily resident of the UK. This will be mainly paid by non-EEA temporary migrants when they apply for leave to enter or remain in the UK. However, this will not apply to to non-EEA visitors, who are in the UK for 6 months.
Successful UK Visitor Visa Applications
Our team of experienced and professionally qualified immigration solicitors and barristers will be able to guide you through the process of making visa applications to the UK step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of law.
If you are planning on visiting the UK or migrating to the UK and wish to know how the government’s plans affect you, please contact us so that we can provide you with comprehensive legal advice.
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